Sunday, April 19, 2009

Try To Not Be Jealous

Because we can't all have a little sister as cool as mine. Except for my older sister--she can. My sweet little sis volunteered to be a guest blogger today. Not only did she write an awesome post, but she saved my brain from trying to think.

We're moving in two days. And I am not going to waste your time complaining about how stressed out I am right now. I'm just going to let you get right into this fabulous post.

Thanks again, Meg!

So, as I told my big sister, this post really doesn’t have a theme. It’s just rambly things that I have learned. I hope that it can be useful to you as you read it.

I’ve been going to a counselor for about a year and a half now. This is for lots of reasons. Which I won’t go into. I’ve had some good therapists and some not so good ones, but lately I’ve had the best one ever! (for me anyway) His name’s Tyler.

Tyler is always trying to help me see the world for what it really is. I have a tendency to see it in extremes. That may sound extreme… and that’s because it is! I have the most irrational thought processes sometimes. A typical one may go like this: “That girl has really pretty hair. I used to have pretty hair. But I don’t anymore. I think it’s because I don’t have time to take care of myself anymore. Why am I so busy? Why don’t I take more time for myself? Well, if I did take the time for myself to look good, I would probably just be disappointed anyway. Probably my hair doesn’t look good because it just really is ugly. Really all of me is ugly. I don’t know what my husband sees in me. He must be absolutely CRAZY!”

Now, you can see here how my way of thinking goes on to hurt people around me. And when I notice that, my thoughts get even more insane: “All I do is ruin people’s lives and make them miserable. Why am I so dumb?”

So, this post is not for you to get any ideas on how to be 100% miserable- this is to help you see if you think like that ever. I think that we do this a LOT more than we’d like to think. At least I do. Tyler has helped me notice how much I go around thinking these toxic thoughts. And they really are toxic. What purpose do they serve? Do they help us feel better? Do they help us be better people? Do they make us fun to be around? The answer is “NO!”

If you ever find yourself thinking this way, here are a few tips that I have learned to help me get out of it. They don’t always work, but that’s okay- just noticing that we think irrationally is a step in the right direction.

1. If you notice your negative thoughts WAY far down the path of depressing-ness, DON’T use that as ammunition to go further. What I mean is that once you realize that you’ve been thinking irrationally for 30 minutes, don’t beat yourself up about not realizing it sooner. Just notice and say something like, “Oh, that’s interesting. Well, I’m not going to do that anymore.”

2. How do we just “not do it anymore?” One idea is to ask yourself if you are sure about what you just thought. The next time you think, “Everyone hates me,” ask yourself, “is that really true? Am I sure that EVERYONE hates me?” And be honest! Be sure to include Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ so that you can NEVER say that this is true. I promise that they will always love us no matter what we do. Plus, most likely we can have ugly hair and still be good people. We can make a mistake, and still be good. It is true!

3. Another way to stop it in your tracks is to treat yourself kindly. There is a children’s song that ends with the phrase “kindness begins with me”. I used to think that meant that we need to be kind to others first. But I don’t anymore. We need to be kind to OURSELVES first. Then we can move on to others around us. And think about it. Are any of those irrational thoughts in your head truly kind? Would you go up to someone you cared about and tell them those same things? NO! We deserve better than to treat ourselves so unkindly.

4. Try to change your mindset from “I have to be perfect all the time or else everyone will hate me” to “Life is about taking growth opportunities as they come.” Tyler calls this “ORGANIC GROWTH”. Sure, it helps a tree be absolutely perfect if you graft in all these branches and prune it, etc. But that’s not natural. A tree will still be a beautiful tree even if you don’t do that. And it will still have its trials. Rain will come. Wind will come. Snow will come. Little kids will come and climb all over it. These natural opportunities for growth will occur- and the tree will grow naturally. It’s the same for us. We can constantly be looking for our faults and working on getting every single one set straight today, or we can just live our lives and let the learning opportunities shape us as they come. I don’t mean that we just sit around and say “Why even try to change- it only makes you sad.” I just mean that we don’t need to go searching for ways to grow- seeing the negative in ourselves will not make us better people! It’s all about the process. We can’t be perfect. The purpose of life is to have joy and become perfect.

5. Once you decide to treat yourself better and not think irrationally, do it. Then the next day when you catch yourself thinking negatively- promise yourself again. Decide again that you won’t listen to yourself when you get that way. And keep on deciding that every day. Tyler says that eventually you will only have to decide that again once a week, and then once a month… but don’t think it’s going to all be gone in one year. I’ve been thinking the other way for more than 20 years! It’s definitely a bad habit of mine, so it’s going to take a LOT of time to drop. But it’s so worth it. Remember that. I struggle a lot with all of this, because I feel like I’m battling myself when I decide not to think the way I have for so long. I get tired of fighting inside my head. “It’s so much easier,” I tell myself, “to just let my mind go the way it’s used to going.” But is it? Is it really easier to think such depressing thoughts that all I can do for the rest of the night is sit on the couch for hours thinking about why I’m worthless? NO! That’s NOT easy. It’s NOT fun. It’s NOT the way to live our lives. It’s just NOT!

Okay, I think that’s it for now. I hope you made it through- this was long. But I hope it was also beneficial in someway. Realizing that our thoughts are irrational and seeing the room for change is half the battle. The other half is actually stopping it. It takes a lot of work, but it will make us happier, healthier (seriously- it’s proven), and whol-er. I promise. I promise myself that it’s worth it, and I promise you that it’s worth it.


Cheryl said...

First of all, I ALWAYS am jealous of how cute your hair looks. Always.

Secondly, I really appreciated this. It's such a good reminder that we really do need to be kind to ourselves. It doesn't help anyone to be down on me. And it most certainly saps the joy right out of everything. Conversely, when I am kind to me, I do feel happy and who cares what anyone else thinks?

Linda said...

Great post, Megan. I remember some of this from our conversation a few weeks ago, and I agree with you. Our thoughts are so powerful; we can control how we feel by how we think. The self-concept course I took at BYU last year helped me learn these true principles. I've been practicing what you preach ever since. It gets more and more automatic. And thinking in ways that are not in my best interest is not even appealing. It just feels so much better to not think those negative, destructive thoughts. It makes me appreciate the gift of agency in a new way.

I hope you'll keep sharing what you learn.

love you!

Kristen said...

Thanks for the post. Sometimes I have a self pity day...I think lots of things, but I will always remember what you said about Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ loving us. Sometimes I just forget. Thanks for your comments.

Becky said...

Those are great thoughts. Thanks for sharing them. And enjoy your journey to greater happiness and joy. You deserve it! (And I hope you got dinner too!)

Jen said...

Thanks for the post Meg. It was a great reminder to think positively and roll with the punches of life. . . and don't we all need that reminder sometimes.

Spencer and Kimberly said...

I like how you pointed out that "kindness begins with me." I think that is so true. I believe we can be better people to those around us once we are better to ourselves. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

Ketchesons said...

Meg, I am so glad you wrote this!
I think I am one of those people, that love to remind myself of all my imperfections and when I learned to control my thoughts I learned to live.
Seriously, the difference it makes in my life is amazing, but like you say we need the growing, we need the bumps, we need the tears.
I love that I am not alone with all the things that fall on my plate, not only do I have a great family but my Heavenly father is always there for me.
Your Tyler sounds awesome!!
You sound like you are doing great at applying what he taught you, thanks for sharing.
love you.

We$ said...

The first time I encountered these concepts was in a book called "Drawing on the Powers of Heaven" by Grant Von Harrison. He talks a lot about the importance of taking accountability for all your actions, words and even thoughts. We really are in control of everything we do, say and think. The author's point was that as we dedicate even our thoughts to the Lord, miracles can and do happen.

I don't know that I can fully recommend the book because I think it borders on the opposite extreme, but the lesson remains valuable - one that I have "drawn upon" time and time again throughout my life.

Melissa said...

Wow! I can totally relate to what you said--I do this all the time with myself. I too have found that the steps you suggest work. I wonder why we think these things? Is it hardwired? Is it the stress of not being physically/mentally/emotionally perfect in a world that celebrates so called perfection? I don't know, but your thoughts are timely and appreciated.
Good luck with the move C!

Linsey said...

What a great post! I have the same problem, and I always seem to be telling myself that it is so much easier to think negatively. For instance, I try not to comment on people's blogs because I tell myself that anything I write sounds dumb. Like right now, I don't want to be commenting because I want to tell myself that what I am saying is dumb...but that would ruin the point of this post and I am not going to let my negative thoughts get in the way!
I really appreciate your words and I feel like this post has been an answer to many recent prayers!
Thanks again!

Courtney said...

Thanks, so much for sharing that Megan- I tend to get really negative and let myself run away with those thoughts, and it's so nice to have some ways to productively overcome those things and realize that those thoughts are NEVER from our Heavenly Father, but only a way that Satan uses to get us down and vulnerable. PS- this is Courtney Waye from albuquerque- I found this through my sister's blog, and it's so good to see how you're doing Megan!